Applications To Arizona's Empowerment Scholarship Account Double Since Last Year

April 14, 2014

Applications to Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account have more than doubled since last year, growing from about 1,000 to almost 2,500. The program provides some Arizona parents with funding to send their kids to private schools. Legislation that expanded qualifications for the system is partly responsible for the growth.

Officials with the Arizona Department of Education say the program has seen significant expansion since it was started in 2011, with participation numbers nearly doubling each year.

Initially, it was only open to children with a disability, but has since been expanded to include active military families, children who are in foster care and kids who go to a school that is received a failing grade from the state.

Phoenix resident Tia Viner said she recently found out about the funding through a school choice advocate and applied for all three of her kids.

"Factors like location, and then I find out, okay well they’re attending a failing school. Just to know that there was another option was the tipping point," said Viner.

The Department of Education estimates they will spend about $10 million on the program for this school year.

Critics of the system say it unfairly gives public money to private institutions who cannot be held accountable.